Deserving Respect – Patomi Yepthomi, Assistant Professor English

It is rare to find a Naga working as a bricklayer, carpenter or involved in other manual labour. Unemployment is a problem all over the world and Nagaland is no exception. However, most Nagas will never work in those types of jobs even if it’s the only thing they might be qualified to do. Instead they would rather live off their parents and family members or resort to crime. It is probably our mindset towards work more than anything else that is holding us back. We need to realize the waiters who serve us tea, the sweepers who sweep the streets are people who not only should be treated with respect but also deserve our respect. 

Deserving Respect

“Thou shalt eat thy bread by the sweat of thy brow” was the curse of God upon the first man, Adam. God himself ordered man to work and work hard. All great men of the world have themselves acted according to this dictate of God. Gandhiji believed a lot in dignity of labour, both in word and deed. Abraham Lincoln, the famous U.S. President, commented that if God did not want us to work, he would have given us no hands. Truly, it is only through toil and sweat that man can get things done. We would have no food, if farmers did not work hard in sun and in shower.

In ancient times manual labour was looked down upon. Slavery existed in almost all the countries a hundred years ago. A labourer, thus, was a victim of mockery and hatred.

 In modern times slavery has been abolished by almost all the civilized countries, manual labour is no more looked down upon. Free citizens realize the worth of labour. No stigma is attached to a person who does manual labour. However, many people in the present generation still have a mistaken idea that manual labor is the means of the power man’s livelihood and has something undignified about it. Certain class of people thinks it below their dignity to do their work themselves. They employ servants to look after their children. The result is that their children are spoiled and do not prove to be good citizens.

We must learn that honest work of all types is dignified and worthy of respect. Even the humble sweeper who does unpleasant task is worthy of respect from the society. The only thing we should be ashamed of is idleness arid to live without labour. Work is worship and to work is the real prayer that we can offer to our creator. We must salute the honest labourer and give him due honour. “His brow is wet with honest sweat; He earns whatever he can; And looks the whole world in the face, For he owns not any man”.

We should learn to foster respect for those who make an honest living, no matter how. Parents should educate their children about the dignity of labor, teach them not to look down upon people who have less than they do, nor demean them in any way. Children should be made aware of all those who make life easier for them — they need to understand that while a watchman, a sweeper or an office peon may not have as cushy a job as either of their parents, they all  have a vital role to play in society. They make life easier for others.

In no country is the dignity of labour better understood than in America. There is no servant class there. The people of all classes, ladies and gentle¬men, have to do their household work themselves. They do not feel any insult in this. There the students do manual work during their vacation, to meet partly the expenses of higher education. Said Abraham Lincoln “If the Almighty had ever meant a set of men that should do all of the eating and none of the work, he would have made them with mouths only and no hands. And if he had meant another class to do all the work and no eating, he would have made them with hands only and no mouth.” Limbs are given for use; to keep them idle is to abuse them. True honor lies in the pride of being able to do one’s own job by one’s own self as also for the society, may be for money. It is only in backward countries that this theory has to be continually preached. There are so many people in our country who still consider it beneath their dignity to do their own purchases from the market or brush their own shoes or wash their own clothes. Such a false idea of dignity is not only foolish but is also positively harmful in the sense that it shows a mentality that makes us despise the so-called lower classes. 

The achievements of science in various fields are the fruits of continued human effort. Man, a small weak creature, is today the master of the world. Why? Because he has worked hard. He has never remained satisfied with what he has achieved. He has always gone on advancing into new fields. His spirit of enquiry is unlimited. His energies are, of course, limited. But he has tamed the air and the sea and the land; he has conquered the animal world, he has solved numberless difficult problems, he has increased his spiritual and mental powers. How has he done this? By constant work.

‘Work is worship’ is one of the truest proverbs. The idea contained in the saying is that all labor, manual or otherwise, is full of dignity and nobility. It equals work with prayer. It emphasizes the point that empty verbal prayers are not as valuable as real achievement in any fields.

No work is superior or inferior in itself. Work is work. It is absolutely wrong to consider any work as high or low. The work itself is a dignity. Every work has some dignity attached to it. It is improper for anybody to think that a certain kind of work is undignified or below his status.

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